FOR THE first time since the Federal seat of Mallee, in north-west Victoria, was created in 1949, analysts give serious credence to the possibility of the National (previously Country) Party not winning the division.
A whopping field of 13 candidates have thrown their hat in the ring to have a crack at the previously impregnable Nationals stronghold.
While bookmaker Ladbrokes still has the Coalition, either in the guise of Nationals' candidate Anne Webster or the Liberals' Serge Petrovich, strong favourites at $1.17, the buzz surrounding other candidates, in particular the three independents, Jason Modica, Cecilia Moar and Ray Kingston means it is very much a live contest.
With this in mind there have been strong turn-outs at forums showcasing the candidates across the region.
In such a strong agricultural region, ag policy will be critical in winning over the farmer vote.
After the Horsham forum last Thursday, Australian Agricultural Media caught up with members of the local farming community to get their feeling about Saturday's contest.
Keith Fischer, Taylors Lake, east of Horsham.
"It was a good chance to hear everyone speak and see what their priorities will be if elected.
"For me, issues like roads are really important, you have a look at the state of the Western Highway, the major road through our region, it has contributed to several accidents over the past month."
Fletcher Mills, Kalkee, north of Horsham.
"I'm interested in grass roots issues, and while some of these may fall under the state government's watch things like rates, roads and the treatment of members of the CFA (Country Fire Authority) are really important to the voters up here."
Lance Netherway, Quantong, west of Horsham.
"Having a forum like this is a good way to get to know a little bit about what each candidate sees as a priority."
Maurie Dumesny, Laharum, south of Horsham.
"I came along to learn a little bit more about what people thought about those key rural issues that are important to people in this area. It was a good chance to hear what the candidates thought, even though with so many to get through we didn't get a chance to get into detail."